Well here it is folks: Day 10: the culmination of all of our efforts. The last day was the best day. I mean surfing the point was also a highlight but I think this is better because everyone unlocked a new level in his and her surfing. Johan and Mariza were able to successfully change directions and lock into some of the longest, most beautiful waves of the trip. Christina rode a 7'6", which is a very small board for her, and made the mid face adjustment we had been talking about in video review the few nights previous (rather than getting caught behind the section). And Anya caught her first green water wave and successfully made the drop. In addition, she got really comfortable with the larger white waters and just started nailing the popup in a way we have not seen before. To add to this the waves were just on fire this day, and the sunset was, well, unexcelled. Also huge props must go to Andrew because when we pulled up to the spot we had been surfing for the evening session the past few days it was super crowded. We were set to go out there anyhow, but then he was like, "Eff this, let's go up to that other peak where no one is out." That was an excellent call. We got the peak to ourselves while others jockeyed and paddled over one another at the peaks to the south of us. The move also holds true to our philosophy: more waves, more joy. Sometimes to unlock the "more waves" part you need to buck your complacency and find an empty peak. More often than not you will be rewarded. We are almost booked for the March trip, but if you're still interested give us a shout at our email address. Also know that if we fill up Andrew is available to book other weeks this winter and spring for you and your crew. He has the full camera set up now, so Conatus lessons in Costa Rica are a year round possibility!
This day began with a glowing moon over Playa Hermosa where Andrew, Johan, and I practiced pulling into closeout barrels. Hermosa does get really good and does stay open when the tide is right, but we just missed the window on this morning. Nevertheless, pulling into closeouts is the first step to becoming a proficient barrel rider. Andrew and I spent many a summer in Stinson Beach, CA taking off on closeouts and getting pinched just for the few seconds of amazing vision. It also is the case that the best barrels you will get in your life look like they're going to close out when you take off. Despite the messages from your brain telling you to back out, you must go. Johan didn't make it inside of any on this occasion but we commend him on going for it and making a few steep drops. We filled in the low tide portion of the day with Andrew's famous waterfall tour. We offer one waterfall tour per surf retreat, and as you can see here, it is a truly grand aesthetic experience, and a huge bonus to what we offer in Costa Rica. Plus, you do get to get a sense of what it's like to get barreled in the lower rapids. We finished the day with a junky high tide session at Hermosa again. While Christina and Mariza rested Johan and Anya stayed at it. Johan demonstrates some clutch turtling and duckdiving. He actually learned to duckdive on this trip. Important to keep in mind that's something we can help you with if you're keen to learn. First requirement is ability to successfully take off and surf on a board small enough to push under. Until then it's the turtle for you! In addition to Johan's duckdiving skills, you can see that Anya is at this point starting to feel comfortable with the larger white waters, and is managing to get some longer rides. We always emphasize that self sufficient white water mastery is the first step before you're ready to take on the outside green waves.
Sorry not sorry for the extra long video. I swear I tried to cut down the "less than awesome" rides on this day, but I had to keep so many in just to commemorate the awesomeness of this day. We started with a low tide spelunking adventure to Playa Ventanas, just south of Uvita. Then we spent the remainder of the day surfing a reeling left reef break to ourselves. Andrew got the float tube "bar" going in the channel again so that we could rest and rehydrate without having to go through the hassle of scrambling over rocks multiple times. Like many great things in life, this spot comes with a fair amount of obstacles: razor sharp, hot rocks, a long paddle, theft-prone parking spot, sea urchins, a dumpy, shallow inside section, and occasional clean up sets. Andrew and I work together to mitigate most of them, but the students also have to put in their own mind over matter approach. And that they did. It was a banner day for all of the retreaters. It was especially special for Christina, who we did not allow to surf it last January because she was too new to surfing. That certainly lit a fire under her to surf it again, and she definitely won the hard charging award this day. You can also see that Johan, Mariza, and Christina all worked on getting back to the power source at different points in the session. Their turns may seem quite small to the experienced surfer but to us, them, and to most beginning surfers these are HUGE strides for people who have been at it for under 2 years. Anya struggled to find the right place to take off but almost nails a ride. She has been at surfing for half the time of the others so I'm sure she'll nail this spot on her next trip with us, especially after you see her progress in the last few videos. You may also notice our focus on whole foods in any of the food related clips in these vids. For surf sessions we relied on mangoes, coconuts, watermelon, and avocados. I love the way that Johan savors the pipa water like he's been trekking through the desert for 2 weeks. I think the hat adds to that image.
On the seventh day of our trip we got our fourth recruit, Anya Estrov. Anya arrived at Quepos Airport (where we pick up all of our guests) at 9a. We hit the beach at 530a for a dawn patrol. I got a nice little shallow barrel and headed in to grab her while the other crew stayed at the beach. Then we all hung out at the beach for the remainder of the day. In this video you can see how the beachbreak at Dominical can go from low tide drainers to fun crumbly high tide walls. There are more than a few closeouts but there are also plenty of great corners if you know where to look. This is great practice for all beach breaks around the world—finding that one wave that will allow you a longer ride—and learning to find the line that will get you up the face and into the speed section. Johan seemed to never get out of the water this day. Mariza and Christina paddled out three separate times, and Mariza broke her leash. It's kind of a surfing rite of passage to break a leash or a board, so kudos to her for charging! As you may also notice, everyone is switching up boards between the 7'2" and 7'6" Colo Ticos, the 9' Soft Top (original version with the harder bottom and sharkskin top), and the 9'4" quad (not sure shaper). Riding different equipment aids in board and wave knowledge and paddling skills because it forces one to adjust his or her weight to the new dimensions, volume, and curves. This is a foundation of our approach both in Costa Rica and New York, and hence the reason why we try to operate with a solid quiver at all times.
Well I'm back in the good ol' US of A and still have a few more vids to edit and upload from our amazing third retreat at Rancho Diandrew in SW Costa Rica. Here's the vid from Day 6. You can see that everyone's drops are getting stronger and they're really starting to hook into the waves. Also featured is the lovely waterfall at the tilapia farm just down the road from us. You'll also witness Andrew's excellent waterfall skills, which come in handy at the many wonderful gorges. The waterfalls in Costa Rica are so refreshing after a long day of surfing. They wash off all the salt and sunblock and cool down your core temp. Not to mention they're beautiful as all get out.
Intro scene gives you and inside view into our drip coffee prep. It's the Tico way to use those cotton filters and it makes an excellent strong brew. On the way down the hill we caught a local morpho butterfly on her morning commute. And of course when we got to the beach it was a pumping wave garden once again. We surfed our brains out for about 6 hours and returned home for another epic dinner followed by video review and surf seminars at (on) the conference (dining) table.